Epiphanytide Home Blessings
When the Magi arrive at the home of God, they offer a blessing in response to the epiphany – the glorious awareness of God’s inbreaking into our world. This is a blessing that spreads as the Magi offer the gift of this love to whomever comes to their door. The tradition of House Blessing during Epiphanytide comes out of this Christian story and occurs all over Europe as a way to bless a home and its inhabitants for the coming year. There are two ways to have your home blessed:
- Rev. Michelle will still offer this blessing (because, when has their been a more important time to have our homes blessed?) but this year, because of the pandemic, we’ll be shortening the Home Blessing a bit. Rev. Michelle will come to your door with chalk (to mark your door) and holy water (to bless the entryway) but won’t be able to come into your home to visit. And, if it’s not too cold, she’ll ask you to say a very short prayer with her in the doorway. You can sign-up for an appointment here.
- But you may want to bless your own home. If so, there are instructions on the website here. All you need is a piece of chalk.
Tending Our Light
Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.
Who can resist watching a cute little otter paddle around in the water? Or the graceful beauty of a jellyfish? How about a young giant panda rolling around on its back as it chomps on a snack? Or the crazy antics of a penguin or a baboon?
Animals have the distinct ability to help us reconnect with delight and calm. They aren’t concerned about national politics and they could care less about social media. They just are. Moving around, eating, playing… all the simple things that all God’s creatures are capable of, including us.
Why not devote a few minutes everyday to watching a few of our fellow creatures just be who they are? Here’s a list of just a few locations that have live webcams. Google “zoo aquarium webcams” to find more! Most of them have lots of educational resources too, if you’re so inclined.
But most important, just enjoy and let the animals be your guides.
The Meaning of Epiphany
Dear Ones: I hope you received my email on Wednesday. In the midst of the chaotic moment we all witnessed at the U.S. Capitol building that afternoon, I found myself experiencing so many emotions, seemingly at the same time and some of them were conflicting. As I watched posts pour out across social media, I realized I wasn’t alone. Perhaps you had the same experience.
And one voice rose above the cacophony of posts – an African-American woman who teaches the Hebrew Scriptures at a seminary and is an Episcopal priest. She said, “Go, check on your people.” I’m so grateful to her for that clarity, for her ability to channel God, because it reminded me to send that email and to invite you all to prayer. And so we had a special Compline service that night. I was glad to see so many people attend in the Zoom room and on Facebook.
I’m not the only person to recognize the timing – that incursion into the U.S. Capitol building took place on the Feast of the Epiphany. Because it is and should be exactly that – an epiphany for so many of us that have remained in various states of unconscious about what’s happening in our nation.
It is a singular event, to be sure. And it’s so easy to blame a person or one of the political parties. But I want to remind us all that to do so, to look for a scapegoat, regardless of how deplorable we believe them to be, is an exercise in futility that offers nothing except some sense of false relief. Finding a Judas is easy and it still bears no fruit. Love is still sacrificed even when we find a person to blame. The truth is, the systems and policies of this nation, of our society, are ultimately responsible for this. Yes, there are individuals who need to be held accountable for specific acts. But that does not purge the disease from our collective blood.
The disease is white supremacy. And, even if we believe we are good people – because each member of St. John’s IS a good person and I love each of you, as does God – of this I am absolutely certain. But even if we know this to be true about ourselves, that doesn’t mean we are not unconscious about how the system of white supremacy has infected us and forced us to uphold a set of beliefs that are utterly contrary to God’s law that is written on our hearts.
We love to talk about the Feast of the Epiphany imagining the 3 Magi crossing the desert on camels to arrive at the home of Jesus just after his birth. We love that this Christ child is such a spectacular event that it drew the richest and the wisest to the manger to worship at the feet of Love Incarnate. And we should love these things. It’s a beautiful story of joy, and love, and peace.
And the point of this story is to understand that this miraculous birth takes place in the manger of our hearts. When we ready ourselves for the truth of love, we are readying ourselves for quite an epiphany. Because, inherent in the gift is the blessing we are given to share. We are given love as we learn to give love itself.
And American theologian Cornell West reminds us, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” This means that love is more than being a nice person. It means that we are called to continue looking beyond our own limits of understanding to learn how to see differently and work for issues of real justice.
My dear ones, I hope the epiphany we have been given this year will open the eyes of your heart in new ways. This is not a time for blame. This is a time to humble ourselves at the manger and learn how love can remove this disease from our minds and hearts and lives. This is not an easy “fix.” This is work that we will be doing for the rest of our lives. So, let us do so with joy and a sense of purpose, for it is the work of Christ.
In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle
Announcements for January 10, 2021
Next Sunday, January 17: Pastoral Care Team meeting after church beginning at 12:30. Click here to attend. All are welcome!
Epiphany Home Blessings! Each year Rev. Michelle makes the rounds to offer a blessing upon your home and will gladly do so this year, although she cannot stay for a visit. You can sign up for a Home Blessing visit from Rev. Michelle or download simple instructions on how to bless your own home. Epiphanytide Home Blessings – St. John’s Kingston
The Page Turners Our book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information. All are welcome!
SAVE THE DATE! St. John’s Annual Meeting is on Sunday, January 31 via Zoom. More information is forthcoming. Here is this year’s slate of candidates for Vestry:
- Lynn Dennison – Warden (2 year term)
- Liz Moeller – Vestryperson (3 year term)
- Nilsa Rodriguez-Jaca (3 year term)
- Sara Hutton (1 year term)
Education for Ministry (EFM): What is EFM? Every baptized person is called to ministry. EFM is a program designed to support that ministry. Participants gather in small, mentored groups where they learn more deeply about the Christian faith and how it shapes our lives. A Tuesday evening Zoom group is being shaped among the Episcopal congregations in Ulster County that will start in January. Space is limited so contact Teri Jones ASAP for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters. If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages). Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping. Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).
Have an announcement?
Please send by Wednesday at noon to email@example.com.